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College students prime candidates for Asbury-type revivals

People lift their arms in worship at Asbury University in Wilmore, Ky. Ongoing revival services have lasted around the clock for 10 days. (Kentucky Today/Robin Cornetet)

WILMORE, Ky. (BP) — Baptist collegiate minister Daniel Johnson is not surprised that revival, now nearing 10 continuous days, would break out among students at Asbury University.

Johnson, Lexington regional campus minister for the Kentucky Baptist Convention (KBC) who helps coordinate Baptist outreach to Asbury, notes college students as leaders in several movements both spiritual and secular.

He points to Facebook, founded by college students Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, the Holy Club of Cambridge founded in the 18th Century by college students John and Charles Wesley, and Charles Spurgeon’s call to ministry in his mid-teens in 19th Century England.

College students, Johnson believes, are ripe for influence and revival.

“I would say a lot of it is due to the fact that they are easily sent, they have the ability to go, they’re compassionate at that age and they’re asking major life questions,” Johnson said. “My job is a great job because I get to come alongside of them and answer those questions through a Gospel lens.

“If you look at most movements, whether it’s secular or sacred, they’ve been started by kind of college-age students.”

Andy McDonald, KBC northcentral regional consultant, recalls the response a college student gave him, his wife and son Will, an Asbury alumnus, as they attended the Asbury meeting.

“We were having chapel like every other chapel and, she said, ‘I left to go get food, but about 30 students stayed behind and that’s when revival began,’” McDonald paraphrased the student.

The current Asbury revival, live-streamed on YouTube, began in the Feb. 8 chapel and, unscripted, simmered and began to boil in a meeting of worship, prayer, confession and repentance uninterrupted as classes and other campus business continue.

“It’s certainly impacting young people, college-age young people especially, and as with most revivals historically, that’s who it starts with,” McDonald said. “I do hope that it would spread to our churches. I think we need it.”

The service is not fueled by a powerful preacher or personality.

“It’s mainly people worshiping the Lord, they have worship teams rotating in and out, and there’s a lot of people at the altar,” McDonald told Baptist Press. “Seems like there’s genuine repentance taking place on the part of those participating and just an overwhelming sense of God’s presence in that place.”

Similarly, the 1905 Asbury revival was birthed in a private prayer meeting with E. Stanley Jones and a handful of other men in his room, Asbury notes on its website. Jones would have been 21.

“In his spiritual autobiography, Jones said that this revival liberated him from a sense of superiority,” Asbury says in its historical account, “which prepared him for future work as a missionary, opened his ears to the Holy Spirit, and led directly to his calling to the mission field.”

Johnson, who helps coordinate college ministry at several regional campuses, said many area students are attending the Asbury event. In addition to Asbury University, Jones coordinates Baptist outreach to the University of Kentucky, Transylvania University and Blue Grass Community and Technical College in Lexington; Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Centre College in Danville and Georgetown College in Georgetown.

The revival is spreading to other schools, Kentucky Today noted in a Feb. 14 report.

He held a prayer meeting Feb. 14 at the University of Kentucky in response to the revival. He is looking forward to the Feb. 23 national Collegiate Day of Prayer, marketed as a “united, multi-generational day of prayer for revival and awakening on college campuses in America.”

“We’re praying for revival to break out at our schools,” Johnson said. “It’s so encouraging to see so many people who love the Lord and want to go over to see what’s happening and to be a part, but the main thing is to be a part where God has placed you. It’s not about a place; it is about a person.”